I never meant this to turn into such a long series but, once I started to look in detail at all of the great music coming out of Australia my enthusiasm got the best of me. I promise this will be the last part and I’ll find something else to obsess about. I’ll start with a band that I somehow overlooked in the earlier columns. Dick Diver who hail from Melbourne and were pioneers of the so-called ‘Dolewave’ though their music was always tighter than a lot of their peers – they had something in common with a lot of the Flying Nun bands from across the water (they make me think of The Bats, and that is never a bad thing). Here’s a couple of live tracks from their ‘Calendar Days‘ album.
Also from Melbourne and active around the same time were Lower Plenty (named after a Melbourne suburb) and sharing members with Dick Diver, as with a lot of these bands, they were prolific making deceptively simple ramshackle pop songs. Here’s ‘Life/Thrills‘ from the 2014 album of the same name. Also recommended are ‘Hard Rubbish‘ and ‘Sister Sister‘.
I’m already getting drawn deeper in than I wanted to be. I wanted to move to some of the newer bands but each of these bands leads to another. I’m going to pass over Blank Realm as they are a mite too noisy for Americana purposes, but nonetheless worth checking out. Here instead is ‘More than Anything‘ by Timeshare from the new EP ‘Blue‘. It is the work of Jordan Thompson who was in The Ocean Party, who you might recall from last time.
Also with a new record out soon are Dag (singer-songwriter Dusty Anastassiou and friends). ‘Pedestrian Life‘ is his second and it continues in the vein of the first with simple honest melodies with little touches of country music, and who doesn’t like a video with teddy bears?
Next up is a band that is breaking out of Australia, they’ve signed to Polyvinyl and also have a new record coming out in the autumn. The first tracks have been released and the increase in fidelity has brought their songwriting and playing skills into greater focus. The band is Good Morning and the song is ‘Country‘ but don’t get too excited – it isn’t that Country.
Another new band that really captures everything about Australiania are Skink Tank (a Skink Tank is an anti-aircraft tank – I just had to look it up) whose music has a great sense of place; all of these bands share sense of rootedness and the joy of making music. It anchors the music and the lyrics always seem to deal with things that are mundane on the surface but reveal a poetry beneath. Here’s ‘Melbourne Water‘.
I’m going to finish with a band that really encapsulates the Australian scene; they’ve been around since 2006 with more lineup changes than anyone can remember. Again from Melbourne, it’s Scott and Charlene’s Wedding (no not Angry Anderson), the band led by Craig Dermody. Despite the line-up changes it is Dermody that shines through. ‘Don’t Bother Me‘ below from ‘Mid Thirties Single Scene‘ could be an anthem for all the bands that we’ve covered in the last few weeks.
To close this personal view of the music of Australia it is only fitting to namecheck one of the bands not mentioned at all, Smudge, and that namechecks both Robert Forster and more obviously the great Grant McLennan.
Editor’s post-script: How do I follow on a sentence from one which ends noting the great Grant McLennan, but David has left out one of the best Australiana songs of all time that’s not recorded by Paul Kelly. The Middle East basically broke up on the day I discovered them. I was obviously a monster in a past life.